The Alberta government recently announced the removal of the 900 MW threshold on wind power generation. This threshold was put in place by the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) in April 2006 as a temporary measure to ensure the reliability of Alberta's electricity system as additional wind power was added to the power grid. In 2007, the AESO and the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) carried out a forecasting study to provide the necessary information to address these reliability issues.
The Market and Operational Framework for Wind Integration in Alberta, the nation's first sophisticated wind study, was published in March 2007 and described necessary mitigation measures, order of use of the mitigation measures, operational issues and obligations and associated cost recovery. The framework was generally accepted as reasonable and balanced and expressed the need for wind integration beyond 2,000 MW and it was found that the threshold was no longer necessary. Currently, there is about 5,500 MW of wind generation in the queue and more than 500 MW of wind power is forecasted to be connected to the grid by the end of the year. With this increase in wind power, Alberta will lead the country with over four percent of its total installed generation capacity being fuelled by wind. Currently, Canada has a national average of only one per cent.
Given the removal of the threshold, the AESO will start obtaining regulatory approvals for further transmission developments to accommodate wind power development in southern Alberta. An already approved transmission development is the 240kV line from Pincher Creek to Lethbridge forecasted to be in service early 2009, with its Need Application for Part A of the Southeast transmission project soon to be filed with the Energy and Utilities Board.
In addition to further regulatory approvals, the AESO is holding a stakeholder consultation on the Market and Operational Framework in October and hopes to complete the following over the next one or two years:
- Technical Requirements for Power Management;
- Wind Forecasting;
- System Operator Tools;
- Market and Operational Rules;
- Generation Scenario Development and Transmission Planning;
- Interconnection Queue Management; and
- Diversity and Wind Integration beyond 2,000 MW.
For more details, please refer to the Market & Operation Framework Implementation Plan at www.aeso.ca